Sunday, March 16, 2014

In Remembrance: Steve Hill (1954-2014)

This past Monday I initially woke up just after midnight. Unable to fall back to sleep, I went online for a couple of hours. Through Facebook friends, I found out a well-known preacher went home to be with the Lord hours before. Steve Hill, best remembered as the evangelist God used to spark the Brownsville Revival, died after a long battle with cancer. He was 60 years old.

Born in Ankara, Turkey to a military family but raised in Alabama, Steve Hill got caught up in a lifestyle of drugs, alcohol, and crime. On October 28, 1975, Steve’s life changed when a Lutheran minister stopped by his house. Steve got born again not by going through the Four Spiritual Laws, the Romans Road, or some other popular witnessing method. The minister simply encouraged Steve to repeatedly call on the name of Jesus and was instantly delivered from drug addiction. Romans 10:13 says, “For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

A few weeks later, Steve was arrested due to unlawful activities prior to his conversion. He was eventually probated to Teen Challenge, which prepared him for the ministry. Steve later spent several years on the mission field planting churches and conducting evangelistic crusades in various countries. All of that came to a halt on Father’s Day 1995 when Steve was the guest speaker at Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, Florida. The rest is revival history.

The first time I listened to Steve Hill was in October 1997 during my initial visit to the Brownsville Revival. I hadn’t yet heard any of Steve’s sermons and was taken aback by his in-your-face preaching style. Eventually, I grew to appreciate Steve’s boldness and passion for souls. He always compelled sinners to run for the altar. Steve often extended altar calls whenever he perceived someone had one final opportunity to get right with God.

During my second trip to Pensacola in January 1998, the Lord spoke to me about downsizing my personal belongings since I would be traveling more as a missionary. Later at the revival, I received a confirmation through this prophetic word spoken by Steve…

“The Lord would say to everyone in this place – live unsettled! Don’t sink too deep into the soil of this earth. Keep your head up and your feet moving…loose yourself of any ties that bind. If you don’t loose yourself – I’ll help loose you! Prepare the way in your own heart and then help prepare the way in others…I will return for a pilgrim people.” 

For the next three years, I attended many more Brownsville Revival meetings as the Lord directed me to make temporary moves to Pensacola. Steve Hill prayed over me numerous times although I never got to talk with him personally. I briefly chatted with his wife one time after finding out she is a North Dakota native like me (Jeri Hill was born in Williston).

While most of Steve Hill’s messages were very serious, he occasionally displayed a sense of humor. I was at Brownsville when Steve preached one message called “Just the Facts” wherein the beginning, the worship leader played the old “Dragnet” theme. Steve then announced, “This is the city...Pensacola, Florida. I carry a Bible.” He often made clever use of visual aids while preaching.

Steve Hill ministered up to four nights a week at the Brownsville Revival during its first five years. Then in 2000, Steve relocated to Dallas and resumed worldwide evangelism outreaches. He later started Heartland World Ministries Church. During the last few years of his life, Steve was weakened by skin cancer but continued preaching the gospel mostly through video plus writing books and numerous articles.

Steve’s death surprised me. I thought he had recovered from his illness after watching him on Sid Roth’s “It’s Supernatural” program last year. In addition, Christian singer Carman also went through a recent cancer scare but experienced miraculous healing. Instead of questioning why Steve didn’t get healed, let’s rejoice in the fact that he’s now in heaven and will be joined there by multitudes touched by his ministry. 

Let’s also take to heart this tribute written by Dr. Michael Brown, the former president of the Brownsville Revival School of Ministry...

“May Steve Hill now be like a seed planted in the ground that dies, only to bring forth much lasting fruit. And may there be a supernatural multiplication of Spirit-anointed, Jesus-centered, revival-carrying, sin-hating evangelists raised up in his name and sent out to America and the nations.”

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 
- 2 Timothy 4:7

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